Friday, May 29, 2009

Rose Festival And Trail Blazers

If you're on the fence as to whether you'd like to spend part of what is shaping up to be a beautiful weekend at the Rose Festival, maybe the inclusion of various Trail Blazers will give you a nudge in the right direction.

First off, Bill Schonely, a man who needs no introduction in this town, will be the Grand Marshal of the Portland General Electric/SOLV Starlight Parade. I'm sure he'll have his best parade wave ready to go.

By the way, The Schonz turned 80 on Monday, and as part of his birthday celebration, we're soliciting your favorite Bill Schonely moments. Please take a moment to jog down memory lane and recount you most cherished call or run in with the most iconic voice in Portland.

But there's more! If you're looking for something to do during the day, consider going down to the Rose Festival Waterfront Village to check out the NBA Nation Tour stop. Travis Outlaw will be there at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and Martell Webster will be stopping by at 4 p.m. on Sunday. And our old friend and current San Antonio Spur Ime Udoka will make an appearance at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Sure to be a great way to say hello to your favorite small forwards. Here's the full schedule for the NBA Nation stop.

Aldridge And Obama

This time of year, most players in the NBA who aren't lucky enough to still be involved in the playoffs are catching up with their families and friends. And at a little over a month removed from the regular season, some guys are back in the gym preparing for a season that is still almost six months away. When it comes to the NBA, there really is no offseason.

So how is LaMarcus Aldridge spending his free time? Well, he's working out a little bit in Dallas and doing some light traveling in between. Oh, and he's also spending a little time with the leader of the free world.

Aldridge was invited to attend a fundraiser in Beverly Hills hosted by none other than President Barack Obama. LA, who's a bit more socially-minded than people give him credit for, jumped at the chance to chitchat, shake hands and have a picture taken with the first Black president in United States history.

"My agency told me about it," said Aldridge. "They said I'd have a chance to spend a few moments and get a picture with him, hear him speak for about 15 or twenty minutes. When they told me about it, I really wanted to do it. So they did what they had to do to get me in."

And at no small expense. Reports had tickets to the gala costing anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000, but the price wasn't enough to keep Aldridge from the opportunity of meeting one of the most powerful and influential people in the world.

"He came out and talked for about 15 minutes," said Aldridge. "He’s a very powerful speaker; a great guy. He talked about how he had made mistakes, but that he was trying to learn something from those mistakes. Kind of the same things we talk about."

The notion that Obama could admit to flaws in his young administration seemed to resonate with Aldridge.

"To meet Obama and to hear him speak and to hear other people share their views about Obama was cool," said Aldridge. "He talked about trying to be a better person by learning from the things that he had done wrong, talking about things we can do to put this country in a better position."

Before setting down for a buffet dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Aldridge talked with President Obama for a few minutes, wherein the conversation turned to what it often does for professional basketball players: height.

"We talked a little about basketball and our season," said Aldridge. "When I got a chance to talk to him he was standing by one of his bodyguards, who was a pretty big guy. Not as tall as me, but definitely taller than Obama. He looked at me, looked at his bodyguard, then said, ‘This is how I feel every day.’

"I got to talk to him for a few minutes, but there were a lot of people to talk to. Guys like Jaime Foxx, the guy who created YouTube. There was a whole different caliber of people there."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

05.28.09 Podcast

I hate to toot my own podcast horn, but this week's edition with Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of Blazer's and I, Casey Holdahl of, is some quality stuff. Good conversation at a pleasant audio level.

This week we give our opinions as to whether Kevin Pritchard and his staff should trade up, trade out or stand pat in 2009 draft, discuss if this year's draft is all that important, eye a few free agents and discuss who caries the "untradable" distinction. There's more to it than that, but you'll have to listen to find out.

Download (47.9 MB)

Blake To Have Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery

Steve Blake, who battled through serious shoulder pain for much of the 2008-09 season after going full tilt into a pick, is going under the arthroscopic knife to, as KP puts it, "clean a few things up." From the press release:
Trail Blazers guard Steve Blake will undergo arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Friday, May 29, General Manager Kevin Pritchard announced today.

“Steve continues to experience some shoulder discomfort,” said Pritchard. “We need to go in, clean a few things up and get it stabilized. He should be good to go in about 6-8 weeks.”

The injury originally occurred when Blake separated his right shoulder trying to fight through a screen in the second quarter of Portland’s game at Philadelphia on January 14. The injury sidelined Blake for five games. He returned to action on January 26 at the Los Angeles Clippers and re-aggravated the injury in the second quarter, forcing him to miss an additional eight games.

The surgery will be performed by Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
You had to figure Blake was going to need a little extra help with the shoulder in the offseason after he admitted he basically didn't use his right arm in practice toward the end of the season. Tough dude, that Blakey.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brian Grant Speaks Out

Brian Grant, who recently came forward to admit he's battling early onset Parkinson's disease, spoke to Trail Blazers staff and media at the Rose Garden today with his wife Gina. Grant, his left hand shaking, discussed his diagnosis, the depression that preceded it, treatment and the freedom he's found in coming to terms with the disease.

Below are some of the things Grant had to say this afternoon. Hopefully it will help you better understand Brian's condition and his mindset as he fights to take control of his affliction.


"Let me start off by saying I don’t have to worry about (the tremor) now. You know what it is. I ain’t going to worry about the tremor. I’m a little nervous right now.

"We’re happy to be back in Portland. I had my best years in the NBA here. It was a family when I played here. I see a lot of faces that I remember from the time that I played here. A lot of new faces. Portland has always been home to me ever since we left and it was always my mission and our mission to get back to Portland in some point in time to raise our children in this community. We’re just really, really happy to be back. Really, really happy to be reconnected with the organization. Definitely happy to see the direction the organization has gone in.

"With this, the Parkinson’s and everything, I’ve never been one to turn away from help. From the time that I set down with the team and told them about the Parkinson’s, the whole organization has stepped out in full force to try and help in any way they could. I appreciate it, my wife appreciates it.

"It’s really good to come see everybody out here. This isn’t a bad time in my life. It’s actually a very, very good time. The bad time was the past seven months. When I went out on the court that night at Kevin Duckworth’s thing, just trying to hide everything. I’ve been in hiding for seven months. I’m finally out. I can finally live and be free.

"God has shown me what my mission is now. I’ve been asking him for the past two and a half years since I retired, ‘What am I going to do?’ Not that there wasn’t things for me to do, but what am I going to do? I don’t know what’s going on with me. Now I know what my mission is."

"When the tremor first came on it was probably about... I noticed it a little bit right after I retired but it wasn’t enough to make me think that I had a tremor. Sometimes as an athlete, especially when your body is starting to come down from a season, you’ll have a twitch in your leg or a twitch in your neck, something like that. I thought it was a regular twitch."

"I had just started working out, like probably a week before I went to the doctor. I had picked up a lot of weight. I was probably about 289 lbs. I had been in the house, not doing anything, gotten lazy. The tremor was pretty bad so I wasn’t really doing anything. So I had really been hitting it hard for a week.

"I went to OHSU and met with Dr. Nutt. When I went there, I had to get on the scale. It’s a digital scale. I’ve got the regular scale, the one with the weights on it. I went on there and I said, ‘This can’t be right. This can’t be right.’

"So we go in, he meets with us for about two minutes. He gets a really serious look on his face and he says, ‘Brian, you have Parkinson’s. I believe you have Parkinson’s.’ And I’m sitting there looking at the window like this and Gina’s rubbing my arm thinking, ‘Oh my goodness. What is he going to say? What is he going to do?’ I turned and looked at Dr. Nutt after about five second and go, ‘I can’t believe that scale said I was 289.’ That was the big thing, the big joke. That kind of broke the ice in there in the room.

"I was taken back, but at the same time I was relieved to know that, ok, this is what it might be. He couldn’t tell me for sure, but he was pretty sure I had Parkinson’s. So then from that point it was, what do I do? I knew I had to exercise. I knew I had to eat healthy. From that point I went a different route. I seeked out Dr. Newman and started a whole regiment of blood test and things to see what I was deficient in as far as minerals and vitamins and things like that. So I started doing supplements, a lot of supplements, IV therapy to put minerals and vitamins back into my system and build them up."

"I had actually sat with Vinnie Del Negro for most of the season in Phoenix when I was getting ready to retire and he told me, “Look Brian, when you retire, you’re going to go through a slight depression. All players do.’ You just kind of go through it because it’s what you were used to doing all of your life. Now it’s changed. It’s come to an end. When I went through it, it was just BOOM, something that was out of left field and I really couldn’t understand what it was about or where it was coming from.

"I know now it was sort of the precursor to the Parkinson’s. A lot of times when people go in for depression they’ll check for other signs that may be Parkinson’s because Parkinson’s and depression go hand in hand just because of the physiological changes your brains goes through. So when I met with Dr. Nutt almost seven months ago and he told me that I had Parkinson’s, that he thought I had Parkinson’s, the conventional medicine, which is very good and I use conventional as well as naturopathic, they suggest that you use certain drugs to maybe stop the progression. If I don’t want to have a tremor and I want to be able to do things I can go ahead and start taking L-DOPA, which would actually take the tremor away. Kind of like a quick fix. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to go that route so I went the naturopathic way.

"I don’t have to tell you if you live in Oregon that this is probably the best place in the world to do that. So I hooked up with Dr. Newman in Vancouver, WA and just kind of explored where my body was at as far as blood tests. I was very deficient in a lot of areas, vitamins and minerals. I have a very high content of mercury in my system, which can come from anything. I’m an avid fisherman and I’m one of those fisherman who if I catch it, I eat it. Maybe not the best thing to do. Not saying that’s why I have Parkinson’s, but we just took a different approach. I took a naturopathic approach toward things. All vitamins and supplements and things like that.

"I realized I was going to go public and once I went public, right now I’m really nervous. It works with your nerves. If I’m angry, it’s (shakes hand). If I’m sad or down it might be calm. Nervous, it really shakes a lot. My symptoms in doing naturopathic treatments have decreased. They’re a lot less than they were before I started. I’m just kind of going down both roads. I’m going down a conventional path as well as the naturopathic path to try and find an answer for me because each case is different. There’s no two cases that are the same.

"I’m learning as I go to. I was telling Gina that I’ve been having the craziest dreams. Crazy vivid dreams. I’d maybe have one or two a week, but now I have them every night. Every night a crazy dream. Come to find out that’s sort of one of the symptoms of it.

"As far as pain, I’m not in any type of pain other than stiffness in the shoulder because of the constant tremors. It’s just like anything: if you do it long enough then everything starts to tighten up. I go to a masseuse and get massages. I haven’t started it yet, but I’m going to go and start taking this course in qigong. It’s basically Tai Chi. Just try to focus my energy. I believe in a lot of different things, so I’m just going down any path that I can. Other than that I don’t really have any other symptoms other than the tremors.

"The calmer I am, the calmer (the tremor) is. As we continue to go along here, as I calm down, you’ll notice it will start to calm down. If I’m not thinking about it, if I’m actually thinking of something else totally off the cuff, then it will kind of go away. It just goes away. And then all of the sudden I’m think my hand isn’t shaking, then all the sudden it starts shaking. And the other time it doesn’t shake is when I sleep."

"This community has always been a community that openly embraced me and my family. When I got here there were a lot of things being said about the organization and the players. But I got here, made friends with all the players and understood all the players. And I also understood the community. This city loves their team and they support their team. But more so than loving their team and supporting it, they love people who don’t just take without giving back.

"When we got here it was an easy fit for us. It was a very easy fit. They opened up to us the same way we opened up to them. Now that I am in the situation I’m in, going onto the website, facebook, I’m just reading them and … thank you is what I’m trying to say because your words mean a lot."

Post Memorial Day Links

I trust everyone enjoyed their three-day weekend. Batteries recharged and ready to ... continue waiting for pre-draft workouts to start. We've got five picks to make! Let's get some kids in here pronto.

The Chicago pre-draft camp does start today, if I'm not mistaken, so maybe I'll be able to track down some news from the Windy City. Until then, enjoy some rather odd links I've found over the last few days.

• Somewhat strange rumor that Nate Robinson wants to be a Trail Blazer. How bout we comprise a team completely made out of former Seattle residents?

• The Beastie Boys are recording tracks for their new album in the submarine on Paul Allen's yacht? I really hope that's true.

Dave Deckard's thoughts on why moving up to grab a point guard wouldn't be his first course of action. Blazer's Edge teammate Ben Golliver disagrees.

Calls for the Birdman in Portland. I bet you could search every NBA team blog and at least half would have a similar sentiment.

Brandon Roy tell Hardknock TV (whatever that is) that Shaq is the best rapper in the NBA. Roy does get in a shoutout for Martel Webster's MC skills.

Swell work by new papa Wendell Maxey at Hoopsworld in getting Kevin Pritchard on record regarding this year's draft strategy.

Jose Calderon won't be available to help the Spanish National Team qualify for the 2010 World Championships, which potential opens up a spot for Sergio Rodriguez.

An interview with Petteri Koponen. You always know an interview is going to go well when the first question is, "How do I pronounce your name?"

• Another video interview with Brandon Roy. Elie Seckbach might have the most unique voice of anyone in the NBA press corp.

• Channing Frye wants you to use his preferred food delivery service.

• This 365 days of Greg Oden gallery on Flickr has been cracking me up.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Waiting On Team USA Invitations

Nothing official has been released regarding the Team USA mini-camp at the end of July aside from the news today that Toronto Raptor coach Jay Triano will be running the show in Las Vegas. There's been a lot of unofficial confirmations regarding who has been invited, but nothing from the desk of USA Basketball.

Geoffry C. Arnold reported a few weeks back that Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden were being invited to try out for the 2010 World Championships. The tone of the article suggested they'd be offered the opportunity, but that no specific request had been made.

Yesterday the Associated Press released a story stating definitively that Roy, Aldridge and Oden had been invited, along with 21 others, to the July mini-camp in Las Vegas. It should be noted that while the mini-camp is being used to decide which players will be part of the World Championships team, those players won't necessarily make the 2012 Summer Olympic team.

According to Chris Sheridan, eight spots are most likely locked up for the World Championship team, leaving four available lockers. Sheridan lists Aldridge, Roy, Oden and Jerryd Bayless, who played on the 2008 Select Team, as potential options.

At this point, it's questionable that eight players from the Redeem Team will take part in the 2010 World Championships, at least according to head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

"First of all, that summer, 2010, is when some of these guys are going through [free agency]; I don't know if they can afford to do that," Krzyzewski told Chris Sheridan. "LeBron [James] is great, but if he's going through the biggest negotiation of his life at that time, can he afford to do it?"

A very astute observation from Coach K. Career's are riding on 2010 free agency, and I don't think anyone would blame a player for taking that into consideration when making their decision.

Why does it matter? Well, according to John Hollinger, Roy would be a favorite to slide onto the team should any of the eight holdovers from the Redeem Team decide to pass on the World Championships. Hollinger gives Aldridge a shot as well, through he seems less sure of that candidacy.

05.21.09 Podcast

This week's Podcast is all about the awards. Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of and I, Casey Holdahl of, make our picks from the Blazers roster for rookie of the year, best defensive player, non-Brandon Roy MVP and a host of other distinctions. We also talk a bit of draft lottery at the end. It's almost an hour, so buckle up.

Download (55.1 MB)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mock Up: Snap Judgments

The lottery did have a small impact on the Trail Blazers draft fortunes, as we're now in possession of the 33rd pick in the second round thanks to the Clippers, but as you're well aware, we've been locked into the 24th pick since the tiebreaker ceremony on April 17.

With the draft lottery taken care of (way to go Clips), the first wave of mock drafts are popping up all over the internets. Let's take a look.

Chad Ford,
Darren Collison, UCLA, PG, 6-1, 165 lbs.
Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard's perpetual search for a point guard continues. Last year, the team acquired lottery pick Jerryd Bayless, but it's pretty clear that Bayless is more of a Ben Gordon type than a Steve Nash type. Collison's quickness, penetrating ability, leadership and defensive talent would have to intrigue the Blazers
Collison has been projected all over the place during his four years at UCLA. Getting him at No. 24 would seem like a no-brainer from a "best player available" standpoint. Then again, Collison strikes me as the kind of guy who could really improve his stock in predraft workouts, much in the same way his backcourt partner Russell Westbrook did last season.

Ian Thomsen, Sports
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina, PF, 6-9, 250 lbs.
He is definitely going to succeed in the NBA, not as a star but as a hard-working contributor to the second unit of a good team. He'll be a reliable guy off the bench for Portland.
I'm torn on whether or not I buy this one.

On one hand, Kevin Pritchard and his staff have made a habit of taking chances late in the first round. They did it with Joel Freeland, Rudy Fernandez, Petteri Koponen and Nicolas Batum. To me, Hansbrough doesn't fit that mold. Not because he's not an international, but because he's the epitome of a safe pick. Probably never going to be more than a role player, but he's not going to make you regret taking him either. That just doesn't seem like KP's style at No. 24.

But then again, the kid is a winner. And if there's one thing the Trail Blazers front office likes out of draft picks, it's hardworking players from successful programs. Pritchard has also mentioned on numerous occasions that he seeks out Roy Williams' advice on many a topic, and I'm sure the UNC coach has a lot of nice things to say about Psycho T.

Draft via HoopsHype
Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech, PF/C, 6-8, 233 lbs.
High-energy power forward who displays intriguing characteristics for a role-player prospect. Not incredibly tall, but extremely long and athletic with a great frame to compensate. The stereotypical hustler. Very active around the basket, gets his hands on plenty of loose balls, an excellent offensive rebounder and a talented shot-blocker to boot. Makes plays around the rim, quick off feet and very instinctive. Gets to the free throw line but does not convert. Likely won’t ever be a huge scoring threat. Work ethic, character are reportedly superb. Still raw, but with a big upside.
I know absolutely nothing about this guy. We're pretty loaded at center, but a backup power forward who can bang could certainly find a spot in Nate McMillan's rotation. And as stated above, No. 24 is the place for high risk, high reward.

Sean Deveney, Sporting News
Austin Daye, Gonzaga, SF, 6-10, 190 lbs.
He’s coming off a knee injury and a so-so season, but Daye is big and loaded with potential.
Again, a guy I don't know that much about. If he's the best player available, then so be it, but we're already stacked at small forward. Stacked I yell ya'. Also seems strange that a sophomore coming off a knee surgery and so-so season would enter the draft if he was going to get picked in the last first round. From what I can tell he hasn't hired an agent, so if he doesn't improve his stock through predraft workouts, I wouldn't be surprised to see Daye head back to the Dog Pound Kennel for another season.
Austin Daye, Gonzaga, SF, 6-10, 190 lbs.
Again, a tough nut to crack.

Tom Ziller, AOL Fanhouse
Omri Casspi, Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF, 6-8, 220 lbs.

Caspi's name has been out there for a while, meaning his book is probably pretty extensive at this point. Playing for one of the two best international clubs in Maccabi Tel Aviv certainly doesn't hurt this cause with the Blazers brass. Then again, Chad Buchanan mentioned during the first round of predraft workouts that the international prospects were pretty thin this year.

Caspi fits the mold of what Kevin Pritchard and his staff like to do late in the first round. Thing is, it's hard to tell how many European prospects the team wants to store away, especially when the "championship window" seems on the brink of opening.

Jrue Holiday, UCLA, PG/SG, 6-3, 205 lbs.
This is a pipe dream. No way Holiday is on the board at No. 24 unless something outrageous happens. The kid has size, great character and a ton of talent just waiting to be harnessed. Heck, Chad Ford has him going 10th to the Bucks and Draft Express has him at 18th. One thing is for sure: if for some reason he is on the board at No. 24, he's a Blazer. Period.

Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech, PF/C, 6-8, 233 lbs.
Well, we've got some early consensus. I'll have to do some research on this fellow.

If you've found any other legitimate mock drafts around the internet, throw those in the comments and I'll add them to the list. We'll update once a week up to the draft.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So Long Lottery

NBA Draft Lottery goes down tonight at 5 p.m. Pacific. Forgot? You're not the only one.

And in this case, it feels real good to forget. It was miserable ending up with the worst possible pick in 2006 (though that turned out just fine), elating to buck the odds and come away with the top pick in 2007 and somewhat relaxing to end up right where we should have in 2008. Now that we've made our return to the playoffs, we have the luxury of not having to care at all about the Mid-May Ping Pong Ball-a-thon.

But if you're one of those folks who always like to have a pony in the race, consider rooting for the Wizards to beat out the Clippers for position in the draft.

The Clippers ended up tied with the Wizards for the second worst record in NBA last season, which required a coin flip to decide which team would get one extra ball in the hopper during the lottery. The Wiz won the flip, resulting in Washington having 178 chances out of a 1000 to win the lottery. By losing the coin flip, the Clips have 177 chances out of 1000 to win the lottery.

None of that makes much of a difference to we Trail Blazers fans, until you get to the second round. See, the Trail Blazers acquired a second-round pick from the Clippers in exchange for Mike Taylor (the first D-League player to be drafted) during a 2008 draft night trade.

But since the Wizards and Clippers finished with the same record, the order of the second round is determined by which of those two teams finishes higher in the draft lottery. The coin flip doesn't apply. The team that ends up with the better first round pick gets the worse of the second round picks. And since the Trail Blazers own the Clippers 2009 second rounder, we would end up with the 32nd pick, rather than the 33rd, if the Wiz get the better of the lottery. Small potatoes, but at least it's something. And according to Draft Express, that could be the difference between Jermaine Taylor out of Central Florida and Sergio Llull from Euro club Real Madrid. So there's that.

Of course, you could also argue it's better for the higher pick to go to the Eastern Conference, wherein we'll only have to play against said pick twice a season until we make the NBA Championship, but that's a topic for another post.

05.18.09 Trail Blazers Courtside Podcast

There was so much good stuff on last night's edition of Trail Blazers Courtside. You'll want to take it all in, especially with the severe lack of new Trail Blazers news.

First off, you can listen to both hours of Courtside commercial-free. Mike Barrett, Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey hold down the hosting duties. Mike Rice was undoubtedly on the golf course getting in a few extra holes before the rain returned.

Hour One

Download the podcast (38.5 MB)

Hour Two

Download the podcast (38.6 MB)

If for some reason you don't have enough time to listen to both hours (though what kind of Trail Blazers fan wouldn't), I've broken out three interviews from the show. Team President Larry Miller, NEW Vice President of Basketball Operations Tom Penn and Director of College Scouting Chad "Buck" Buchanan all made appearances on Monday's show, which you can listen to below.

Larry Miller

Download the podcast (16.5 MB)

Lots of good information during that interview on the plans to develop the Rose Quarter.

Tom Penn

Download the podcast (8.5 MB)

Far as I know, this interview is the only public statement Penn has made since deciding to stick with the organization. Penn talks about his decision and what it entails. And as always with Penn, the discussion eventually makes it's way to the salary cap.

Chad Buchanan

Download the podcast (8.3 MB)

Last but not least, Chad Buchanan talks about last week's pre-draft workouts, the upcoming workouts both in Portland and beyond, the relative weakness of this year's draft and the lack of international talent coming into the league this season. Buchanan is always a great listen.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Show Your Support For Brian Grant

Brian Grant, one of the all-time beloved Trail Blazers, went public today to discuss his battle with Parkinson's Disease. It's a terrible affliction for anyone to deal with, but it must be that much more difficult to be diagnosed with this disease when you've relied so heavily on your body for your livelihood. It sounds like he's already making great strides in battling the condition.

If you'd like to support or at least stay current with Grant's fight against Parkinson's, you can follow him on Twitter, join his Facebook group, and watch "Outside The Lines" this Sunday.

Question And Answer Session

Brandon Roy plays it low during the offseason. The guy puts in so much work between October and May that, as soon as the season ends, he's a ghost in these parts. Can't blame him.

He does resurface every now and then. Case in point: Roy was at the Nike Global Training Summit in Newport Beach, CA. Both Dime Magazine and AOL Fanhouse caught up with B.Roy, and both outfits turned out a Q&A. Dime's is here, Fanhouse's is here. Questions about Ron Artest's comments, the playoffs and workout in the offseason abound.

Kevin Pritchard On The Thundering Herd

It's almost a week old, but if you're like me, you probably haven't had a chance to listen to Colin Cowherd interview General Manager Kevin Pritchard on the May 12, 2009 edition of The Thundering Herd. But we've got you covered.

KP's interview can be streamed or downloaded below. Plenty of interesting stuff to keep you going during these lean news days.

Download (8.1 MB)

Audio provided courtesy of ESPN Radio

Friday, May 15, 2009

Brandon Roy And Winning What Others Have Won

Brandon Roy has put together quite the list of accolades in just three NBA seasons. He was nearly unanimously voted Rookie Of The Year in 2007. In 2008 and 2009, Roy was selected as an All-Star. And his latest honor, that of being named to the All-NBA Second Team, might be his most impressive individual accomplishment yet. All in all, it’s been a stellar start to what will hopefully be a long and successful career.

What Roy has accomplished in his first three seasons, at least as it pertains to awards and All-Star appearances, is not unprecedented. There have been 24 players in NBA history who have won Rookie Of The Year, been named to two All-Star teams and at least one All-NBA team in their first three seasons. That number goes up to 25 if you count Tim Duncan, who would have surely made the All-Star team in 1999, his second season, had it not been for the lockout. Being the 26th player to receive that combination of distinctions is nothing to discount, especially considering thousands of players have come and gone through the history of the NBA, but it’s not as rare an achievement as one might think.

But scarcity doesn’t really tell the story; names do. With his combination of accolades, Roy joins the likes of Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Willis Reed and Bob McAdoo. Or on a more contemporary tip, there’s Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James. All members of the Rookie Of The Year/Two-time All-Star/All-NBA in the first three years club.

When you compile the list of players who have managed this somewhat esoteric milestone, you notice a common thread, one that, if history is to be trusted, will assure Roy’s status as one of the best to ever play the game as a Portland Trail Blazer.

It goes like this: Of the players in NBA history to have won Rookie Of The Year, been named to two All-Star teams and at least one All-NBA team, all in their first three seasons, just two who are eligible have not been enshrined in the NBA Hall Of Fame. Only Walter Davis and Ralph Sampson, both of whom were befallen by unusual misfortune (Davis with drugs and Sampson with injuries), have yet to make the HOF after achieving this particular set of accomplishments in their first three seasons.

Does this mean Roy is a lock for the Hall Of Fame? Hardly. And even if that were the case, I wouldn’t want to be the one to jinx it. There’s plenty that can go wrong between now and when B.Roy decides to hang ‘em up, but if he stays on this same trajectory, the sky is the limit.

UPDATE: Someone over at Blazer's Edge suggested I give the names of all the players who won Rookie Of The Year, were named to two All-Star games and made an All-NBA team in their first three seasons. Here's that list.

Bob Pettit
1955 NBA Rookie Of The Year
54-55 All-NBA
55-56 All-NBA
1955 All-Star
1956 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1971

Maurice Stokes

1956 NBA Rookie Of The Year
55-56 All-NBA
56-57 All-NBA
1956 NBA All-Star
1957 NBA All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 2004

Tom Heinsohn
1957 NBA Rookie Of The Year
60-61 All-NBA
61-62 All-NBA
1957 All-Star
1960 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1986

Elgin Baylor
1959 NBA Rookie Of The Year
58-59 All-NBA
59-60 All-NBA
1959 All-Star
1960 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1977

Wilt Chamberlain

1960 NBA Rookie Of The Year
59-60 All-NBA
60-61 All-NBA
1960 All-Star
1961 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1979

Oscar Robertson
1961 NBA Rookie Of The Year
60-61 All-NBA
61-62 All-NBA
1960 All-Star
1961 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1980

Jerry Lucas
1964 NBA Rookie Of The Year
63-64 All-NBA
64-65 All-NBA
63-64 All-Star
64-65 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1980

Willis Reed
1965 NBA Rookie Of The Year
66-67 All-NBA
67-68 All-NBA
1965 All-Star
1966 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1982

Rick Barry
1966 NBA Rookie Of The Year
65-66 All-NBA
66-67 All-NBA
1966 All-Star
1967 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1987

Dave Bing
1967 NBA Rookie Of The Year
67-68 All-NBA
70-71 All-NBA
1968 All-Star
1969 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1990

Wes Unseld
1969 NBA Rookie Of The Year
68-69 All-NBA
1969 All-Star
1971 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1988

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
1970 NBA Rookie Of The Year
69-70 All-NBA
70-71 All-NBA
1969 All-Star
1970 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1995

Dave Cowens
1971 NBA Rookie Of The Year
72-73 All-NBA
74-75 All-NBA
1972 All-Star
1973 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1991

Bob McAdoo
1972 NBA Rookie Of The Year
73-74 All-NBA
74-75 All-NBA
1974 All-Star
1975 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 2000

Walter Davis
1978 NBA Rookie Of The Year
77-78 All-NBA
78-79 All-NBA
1978 All-Star
1979 All-Star

Larry Bird
1980 NBA Rookie Of The Year
79-80 All-NBA
80-81 All-NBA
1980 All-Star
1981 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 1998

Ralph Sampson
1984 NBA Rookie Of The Year
85-85 All-NBA
1984 All-Star
1985 All-Star

Michael Jordan

1985 NBA Rookie Of The Year
84-85 All-NBA
86-87 All-NBA
1985 All-Star
1986 All-Star
*Eligible for Hall Of Fame in 2009

Patrick Ewing
1986 NBA Rookie Of The Year
87-88 All-NBA
88-89 All-NBA
1986 All-Star
1988 All-Star
NBA Hall Of Fame, Class of 2008

David Robinson
1990 NBA Rookie Of The Year
88-89 All-NBA
90-91 All-NBA
1990 All-Star
1991 All-Star
*Eligible For Hall Of Fame in 2009

Shaquille O'neal
1993 NBA Rookie Of The Year
93-94 All-NBA
94-95 All-NBA
1993 All-Star
1994 All-Star

Grant Hill
1995 Co-Rookie Of The Year
95-96 All-NBA
96-97 All-NBA
1995 All-Star
1996 All-Star

Tim Duncan
1997 NBA Rookie Of The Year
97-98 All-NBA
98-99 All-NBA
1998 All-Star
1999 No All-Star Game (Lockout Season)

Vince Carter
1999 NBA Rookie Of The Year
99-00 All-NBA
00-01 All-NBA
2000 All-Star
2001 All-Star

LeBron James
2004 NBA Rookie Of The Year
04-05 All-NBA
05-06 All-NBA
2005 All-Star
2006 All-Star

Thursday, May 14, 2009

05.14.09 Podcast

As far as I know there isn't an All-NBA Podcast Team, but if there were, I feel confident in stating Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of and me, Casey Holdahl of, would make the second team, at least. Maybe we wouldn't receive any first place votes, but yo better beleive we'd still make the list.

And in this edition of the official Podcast we go over Brandon Roy's All-NBA second team honors, what we may or may not see in the 2009 Draft, Greg Oden's summer, Travis Outlaw's ability to blend in and why Jerryd Bayless is probably putting in a lot of summer gym hours.

Download (40.3 MB)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pre-Draft Workouts: Day Two

The two-day run of early pre-draft workouts got underway Tuesday at the practice facility in Tualatin, with two point guards, two wings and two posts being put through the motions by various members of the Trail Blazers scouting and coaching staffs.

Some of the names in Tuesday's group were a bit more recognizable, thanks in large part to the inclusion of Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo, and the talent level, according to Chad Buchanan, Director of College Scouting, was just a tad bit higher than that of the first group.

"I thought yesterday’s group was decent," said Buchanan. "I thought this group was just a notch better. The point guards today, I think, raised the level of play today."

Those point guards were Pargo and Josh Akagnon out of Cal State Fullerton, who was a late addition to the workout after USC's Daniel Hackett had to pull out due to injury.

"Jeremy’s personality is kind of infectious, raised the workout," said Buchanan. "And Josh Akognon is very good with the ball offensively, so he can make stuff happen when stuff breaks down."

It was the inclusion of Pargo and Akognon that, despite the relative similarity in talent level, gave the second day of workouts more cohesion than the first.

"Yesterday those guys, that was all their first workouts," said Buchanan. "It’s like the first day of practice when guys are going as hard as they possibly can and it makes the game kind of sloppy. Where as these guys, the point guards were a little more poised, little more refined with the ball, made better decisions. The three-on-three stuff flowed a little better because those guys are making better decisions. These guys are two pure point guards, so that definitely helps."

Buchanan also noted a better balance, at least as far as the three-on-three play was concerned, in today's workout thanks to Chris Johnson of LSU and Jeff Adrien of UConn, both of whom are more tradition post players.

"You got two definite lowpost guys today, where as Demarre (Carroll) and Joe Krabbenhoft were kind of face the basket kind of fours," said Buchanan. "Now you’ve got more balance with your floor spacing when you’ve got two guys who want to play in the paint like Chris and Jeff do. So that just made our spacing a little better today too. Not that these guys were better players than yesterday, but the workout was better today."

Here's what Buchanan had to say about the six players who worked out on Tuesday.

Jeremy Pargo, Guard, Gonzaga

"You’ve got to respect a guy who communicates and talks and you can just feel how much he loves being out there competing. We saw him a lot during college, obviously being in the northwest, and have always respected his toughness, his grit, his leadership. I think you saw that out there today. He needs to improve in a few areas to step onto an NBA floor and I think he will do that knowing the type of kid he is. He’s definitely got a chance down the road to play in our league."

Josh Akognon, Guard, Cal State Fullerton

"He declared last year for the draft. We liked him in the workout that we saw him in last year. We were originally supposed to have Daniel Hackett but he got injured, so we brought Josh in. Very good with the ball. Didn’t shoot it as great today as he’s capable of, but very crafty. Quick with the ball. Can go get his own shot, which, for a guard in our league, is a must. Little small. Got to get a little better defensively, but I thought he held his own against Jeremy today."

Josh Carter, Guard, Texas A&M

"Josh, a great catch and shoot guy, was really effective early in his career playing with Acie Law. He needs guys around him to get him shots because he’s not great with the ball, not super athletic. But you put him in the corner or put him in a stationary situation, he can really shoot the ball."

Alonzo Gee, Guard, Alabama

"Alonzo will be one of the best wing athletes in this draft. Very explosive. He’s got good length, he’s strong. Needs to improve his overall skill level, I think; ball handling, shooting, decision-making. But he’s got some serious physical tools to work with. Much further along defensively than he is offensively right now. He was good today defensively."

Chris Johnson, Forward, LSU

"Great defensive presence with his length. Obviously as you look at him you see he needs to fill out, get a little stronger. He knows that. But if he can do that he can disrupt the game because he’s quick off the floor and he’s got good length. Very limited offensively right now. But one thing I’ll say about him is he knows what he is as a player, which for us is a sign of a high basketball IQ. He doesn’t try to do anything more than is expected of him. Had a great season for LSU this year. I thought he was very good today actually. He has a chance of being drafted in the second round."

Jeff Adrien, Forward, UConn

"You saw a lot of him during the year playing at a high profile school. Very physical. I thought he was good today once we started going live. You do the kind of skill work stuff and maybe he doesn’t shine as much because he’s kind of raw, but you get him out there competing and there’s something on the line. I thought he was very good today. We wanted to see those two guys matched up. Jeff is a guy I know people around the league do like. It wouldn’t surprise me if somebody took him in the second round."

The Trail Blazers will take a break from hosting pre-draft workouts at the practice facility until after the pre-draft combine in Chicago. However, the scouting staff will be in attendance for many of the upcoming group workouts held in places like Houston and Minneapolis between now and the draft lottery.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pre-Draft Workouts: Day One

The march toward the 2009 NBA Draft started in earnest today with six players put through the motions at the Trail Blazers practice facility. It was the first of a two-day series of workouts that will conclude tomorrow. The workouts kick into overdrive toward the end of May after the Chicago pre-draft combine, but for one reason or another, the Blazers decided to get 12 guys in early.

According to Chad Buchanan, Portland's Director of College Scouting and the coordinator of today's workouts, none of the six guys brought in today are first round prospects, at least not yet, but their books are hardly written at this point in the process.

"We’ll look at some of them primarily as summer league guys," said Buchanan. "Tomorrow’s group is kind of similar status as far as where their draft stock is at as of today. Some of these guys could really help themselves over the next month or so. If they get in their with a workout against, for example, if a Garrett Temple gets into a workout with Ricky Rubio or somebody like that, plays well, then his stock goes up and maybe he gets himself into a lock for being drafted. But it’s too early to tell on a lot of these guys."

Which is why these workouts are conducted in the first place.

It's rather difficult to recap these kind of exercises in any sort of meaningful way, so I'll let Buchanan's thoughts on the performances of each player speak for themselves.

Cedric Jackson, Cleveland State

"Cedric today, I thought he really competed defensively. I haven’t seen him live during the year. We’d seen him in the NCAA Tournament, liked him. Obviously coming from a smaller program, he wasn’t as exposed as some of the higher-tier talent that you saw today. I thought he competed defensively. He’s got a ways to go with his skill work and his decision making, I think. Thought he competed today."

Wes Mathews, Marquette

"Wes is a great catch and shoot guy. Very smart, intelligent, tough kid. Went through the rigors of the Big East for four years. He’s got to get a little quicker, a little more athletic, but I think he knows how to play. He’s been well coached."

Garrett Temple, LSU

"Garrett, we’ve liked him for quite a while. Always been steady, played for a great programs, comes from a great family. Just a basketball kind of environment he was brought up in. Athletic and he’s long, one of those guys who knows how to play. Thought he played well today."

Demarre Carroll, Missouri

"Demarre has always been an energy guy. We’re talking to Demarre after the workout. I think he’s going to be a guy who’s got to find a niche of being that energizer type, a motor who comes on the court and gives you a little spark with his effort."

A.D. Vassallo, Virginia Tech

"A.D was similar to Wes. Great catch and shoot guy. He’s probably got to trim down a little bit, get a little more quicker with his feet. But good kid. His coach is a very good coach. All of these guys come from great programs and great coaches."

Joe Krabbenhoft, Wisconsin

"I saw Joe a lot in high school and always appreciated his effort. Tough kid. He’s not going to wow you with anything he does but he knows how to play, knows what he is as a player. Had a great career at Wisconsin playing for an unbelievable defensive coach. You can see that today. He knows how to defend, he’s going to dive for loose balls, he’s going to try to take a charge, he’s going to do the little things to help you win but he’s not going to be anything that’s going to catch your eye as the normal basketball fan."

It was interesting to hear that, in some respects, these initial workouts are used by the team as a way to get back into the groove of the pre-draft grind. The Trail Blazers will bring in somewhere around 50 players over the next month, so it's important to have a rhythm down so you're not wasting valuable time.

"We bring in a lot of guys," said Buchanan, "probably more than most teams do, and we want to make sure we’re efficient with our time that we get with these guys. A lot of these guys we’ll only get to see one time so we want to make sure we’re seeing everything we need to see. It’s not a trial run for us but it kind of gets our feet back wet just like it does for these kids."

The workouts continue tomorrow, with the likes of Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo and UConn's Jeff Adrien taking to the court.

Name That Player Quote Answers

First off, thanks to everyone who sent in their best guesses as to which quotes came from which players. It was interesting to see which quotes almost everyone nailed and which quotes almost everyone missed. The quotes most often misidentified usually came with the same incorrect answer, which is telling.

As for going a perfect nine-for-nine, sorry, no one managed. The most correct answers from any one submission was six, an accomplishment "lmills," "cristian" and "ian," all shared. Way to go.

Here are the correct answers.

Quote No. 1

Regarding what will be used as motivation to get better throughout the summer:

"Just the bad feeling we had when we lost. I think the playoffs were fun. I think you put yourself in a great position and I think it being over so fast that it’s tough to deal with. So I think that will be something that will motivate me all summer."

Answer: LaMarcus Aldridge

Almost everyone got this one right. LA often starts sentences with the word "just" and he very often restates a succinct, one line synopsis when he wraps up his answer.

Quote No. 2

Regarding what this player learned this season:

"I learned a lot, everything from how to run a team and how to become a better overall player. It’s definitely been a healthy year and next year I’m going to use that and come back a different player."

Answer: Jerryd Bayless

I thought more people would have answered this one correctly. No real "tells" in Bayless's answer, but I thought the desire to improve would have been more of a giveaway.

Quote No. 3

Regarding expectations for next season:

"We can’t be satisfied. We had a good year, but we’ve still got a bitter taste in our mouth. I guarantee all guys are going to use it as motivation to work hard this summer and to get better and to come in next year to have a phenomenal year. We want a year like we did this year because we had fun with it. We enjoyed it. To do that you’ve got to work. Like Coach McMillan said in our team meeting today, every night we play hard and play our tails off. You’ve got to give us credit for that."

Answer: Joel Przybilla

This was a tough one. I think lots of people picked Brandon Roy for this quote because it was so long, but Przybilla will talk a bit too. Three things stand out for me in this quote. First, the use of the phrase "bitter taste," which is something Przybilla mentions from time to time. Second is calling Nate McMillan "Coach McMillan." Roy usually refers to McMillan as "Coach Nate". "Play our tails off" is also telltale Przybilla.

Quote No. 4

Regarding what this player learned this season:

"I think I learned the NBA league, you know? The NBA play, in Europe is absolutely different than NBA. But I learn a lot and I think the team, the coach, every coach, he helped me a lot."

Answer: Rudy Fernandez

One of the easier questions. The quote is obviously from a European and probably from a rookie, so that basically leaves you with two options. The dead giveaway if the "you know?" at the end of the first sentence. That's a Rudy thing.

Quote No. 5

Regarding what this players will appreciate about the season:

"My teammates. I feel like I had the best teammates. Everybody was close knit. That’s basically it. It’s a great team, great chemistry. Nobody was jealous of each other. Everybody wanted each other to do well."

Answer: Travis Outlaw

Outlaw very often talks about his teammates. Nevertheless, this is one of the hard quotes to guess. Now if there would have been a "most definitely" in the answer, piece of cake.

Quote No. 6

On what this player needs to improve on in the off-season:

"A lot of things. Everything. I’m not going to specify, but I’ve got a lot of things to work on. "

Answer: Greg Oden

That's just Greg being Greg. Quick, self-effacing, right to the point.

Quote No. 7

On this players long term prospects with the Trail Blazers:

"I want to be a part of this. I love this team. I love my teammates. I love the coaches. Love living here. This is the ideal spot for me. I’m not trying to go anywhere. As long as they want me here, I’ll pretty much be here."

Answer: Steve Blake

Lot of people picked Channing Frye on this one, but Blake, though not as vocal with his love of Portland, is a fan of the area. Being one of the only players on the team who makes the Portland-metro area his full time home proves that.

Quote No. 8

On what the difficulties of the Houston series:

"I think the key of the series was they hit first. When they hit first, when we tried to recover, it was too late. "

Answer: Sergio Rodriguez

This was probably the toughest. Nothing all that quintessentially Sergio in his quote.

Quote No. 9

On what this player learned about the NBA this season:

"The game is tougher. Very physical. It’s tougher. I think I got a lot of experience. Now I just want to win more. More wins."

Answer: Nicolas Batum

Again, most got this one right. You know it had to be a rookie when talking about the style of play and the short sentences make you think non-native speaker.

Just to repeat, thanks to everyone who put in a guess.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Name That Player Quote

Last Friday the Trail Blazers participated in their last media availability before heading off into the off-season sunset. At this point, the media are pretty much out of questions and the players are equally out of answers, so it's more about saying goodbyes than anything else. It's the media equivalent of the last day of school: you're required to go, but no one is really getting any work done.

After a season of asking questions and, more often than not, receiving answers, I've become quite good at recognizing who a quote came from without needing a name attached. Certain guys answer questions in certain ways, often using reoccurring themes, sentence structures and phrases to respond to what must sometimes feel like a never ending series of queries.

As readers of this blog, you're almost certainly familiar with some of these tactics as well, but to what extent? Well, let's find out. Below are quotes from last Friday's media availability at the Blazers practice facility. See if you can figure out which player said what, putting your informed guesses in the comments. I'll only pull one quote per player, but not all the players will be quoted (in short, no duplicates). Some will be easy for reasons I won't divulge, but some won't. I'll post the answers on Monday, and if you get every quote right I'll send you something Blazer-themed, assuming the thrill of knowing you possess a vast intellect isn't reward enough.

Here goes ...

Quote No. 1

Regarding what will be used as motivation to get better throughout the summer:

"Just the bad feeling we had when we lost. I think the playoffs were fun. I think you put yourself in a great position and I think it being over so fast that it’s tough to deal with. So I think that will be something that will motivate me all summer."

Quote No. 2

Regarding what this player learned this season:

"I learned a lot, everything from how to run a team and how to become a better overall player. It’s definitely been a healthy year and next year I’m going to use that and come back a different player."

Quote No. 3

Regarding expectations for next season:

"We can’t be satisfied. We had a good year, but we’ve still got a bitter taste in our mouth. I guarantee all guys are going to use it as motivation to work hard this summer and to get better and to come in next year to have a phenomenal year. We want a year like we did this year because we had fun with it. We enjoyed it. To do that you’ve got to work. Like Coach McMillan said in our team meeting today, every night we play hard and play our tails off. You’ve got to give us credit for that. "

Quote No. 4

Regarding what this player learned this season:

"I think I learned the NBA league, you know? The NBA play, in Europe is absolutely different than NBA. But I learn a lot and I think the team, the coach, every coach, he helped me a lot."

Quote No. 5

Regarding what this players will appreciate about the season:

"My teammates. I feel like I had the best teammates. Everybody was close knit. That’s basically it. It’s a great team, great chemistry. Nobody was jealous of each other. Everybody wanted each other to do well."

Quote No. 6

On what this player needs to improve on in the off-season:

"A lot of things. Everything. I’m not going to specify, but I’ve got a lot of things to work on. "

Quote No. 7

On this players long term prospects with the Trail Blazers:

"I want to be a part of this. I love this team. I love my teammates. I love the coaches. Love living here. This is the ideal spot for me. I’m not trying to go anywhere. As long as they want me here, I’ll pretty much be here."

Quote No. 8

On what the difficulties of the Houston series:

"I think the key of the series was they hit first. When they hit first, when we tried to recover, it was too late. "

Quote No. 9

On what this player learned about the NBA this season:

"The game is tougher. Very physical. It’s tougher. I think I got a lot of experience. Now I just want to win more. More wins."

Let The Pre-Draft Workouts Begin

It's hard to believe it was only a week ago the Trail Blazers' 2008-09 campaign came to an unceremonious conclusion in Houston. The sting of a season ended far too quickly is still present, but there's no time to dwell in the pain of the past. Onward to the future!

The first step: pre-draft workouts. The Trail Blazers, not an organization known for complacency, especially when it comes to the draft, are already scheduled to bring in 12 collegians for evaluation on May 11th and 12th. The invitees are as follows:

May 11: DeMarre Carroll, Forward (Missouri); Cedric Jackson, Guard (Cleveland State); Joe Krabbenhoft, Forward (Wisconsin); Wes Matthews, Guard (Marquette); Garrett Temple, Guard (LSU); A.D. Vassallo, Guard (Virginia Tech)

May 12: Jeff Adrien, Forward (Connecticut); Josh Carter, Guard (Texas A&M); Alonzo Gee, Guard (Alabama); Daniel Hackett, Guard (USC); Chris Johnson, Forward (LSU); Jeremy Pargo, Guard (Gonzaga)

My understanding (and please feel free to correct me if I'm misinformed) is teams are allowed to bring in players for workouts earlier this season thanks to the dissolving the the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp, which had apparently outlived its usefulness. Players will now go to Chicago for physicals, but now all workouts will be handled on a team-by-team basis. Player personnel-types prefer to see players in their own gym anyway.

Also probably worth pointing out that this is just the first round of pre-draft workouts. It's safe to assume there will be more potential picks taking to the floor of the practice facility before the 2009 Draft rolls around on June 25. After all, the Trail Blazers are currently in possession of the 24th pick (the lone first rounder), the 32nd or 33rd pick (pending the outcome of the Draft Lottery) from the LA Clippers, the 38th pick from New York (via Chicago), the 55th pick from Denver and the 56th pick. That's five picks for those of you keeping track at home.

Bios, courtesy of sports communication wunderkind Aaron Grossman, are below.

Position: Guard
Height: 6-3
Weight: 190
Birthdate: Mar. 5, 1986
From: Columbus, N.J.
College: Cleveland State

NOTEWORTHY: Spent two seasons at St. John’s before transferring to Cleveland State … Played 54 games, making 35 starts, for St. John’s from 2004-06, averaging 4.3 points (34.9% FG), 3.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.56 steals … Sat out 2006-07 season per NCAA transfer rules … Played in 71 games (all starts) for Cleveland State from 2007-09, averaging 12.3 points (40.5% FG), 5.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.82 steals … Named 2008-09 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year … Named a Second-Team All-Horizon League choice in 2007-08 and 2008-09 … Led the Horizon League in steals in 2007-08 and 2008-09 ...Ranked third in the country with 3.03 steals per game in 2008-09.

Position: Guard
Height: 6-5
Weight: 220
Birthdate: Oct. 14, 1986
From: Madison, Wis.
College: Marquette

NOTEWORTHY: Played four years for Marquette from 2005-09, averaging 13.2 points (44.0% FG), 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.22 steals in 127 games … Posted career highs of 18.3 points (47.5% FG), 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists during his senior season in 2008-09 … Named a Second-Team All-Big East performer as a senior … Sixth in the Big East in scoring (18.3) and third in free throw shooting (82.9%, 213-257) in 2008-09 … Started every game in guiding the Golden Eagles to three straight seasons of 24-plus wins from 2006-09 … Named Mr. Basketball for the state of Wisconsin by the WBCA/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as a high school senior … 2005 AP Wisconsin Player of the Year.

Position: Guard
Height: 6-6
Weight: 190
Birthdate: May 8, 1986
From: Baton Rouge, La.
College: LSU

NOTEWORTHY: Played four seasons for LSU from 2005-09, averaging 6.7 points (37.1% FG), 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.43 steals in 134 games, including 131 starts … Became the all-time leader in games played (134), starts (131) and minutes played (4,432, 33.1 per game) at LSU … Named to the 2009 All-SEC Second Team and All-SEC Defensive Team as a senior … An All-Glue Team and All-Louisiana Second Team selection in 2009 … Ranked fifth in the SEC in assists (3.8) and fifth in steals (1.71) … Started all 35 games on a 27-8 Tigers team in 2009 … Named to the 2008 All-American Defensive Team.

Position: Guard
Height: 6-6
Weight: 216
Birthdate: Apr. 2, 1986
From: Toa Baja, Puerto Rico
College: Virginia Tech

NOTEWORTHY: Played four years for Virginia Tech from 2005-09, averaging 13.7 points (44.4% FG, 38.5% 3-PT), 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 133 games, 88 starts … Posted collegiate bests of 19.1 points (45.0% FG), 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in his senior season in 2009 … Named to the All-ACC Third Team in 2009 … Ranked fourth in the ACC in scoring (19.1), fourth in three-point field goals made per game (2.4), eighth in free throw shooting (83.5%), tied for ninth in field-goal percentage (45.0%), 14th in rebounding (6.2) and second in minutes played (36.7) as a senior … Led the Hokies in scoring in his junior and senior seasons.

Position: Forward
Height: 6-8
Weight: 225
Birthdate: July 27, 1986
From: Birmingham, Ala.
College: Missouri

NOTEWORTHY: Spent two seasons at Vanderbilt before transferring to Missouri … Played 64 games for Vanderbilt from 2004-06, averaging 7.2 points (50.8% FG), 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists … Sat out 2006-07 season per NCAA transfer rules … Played in 70 games for Missouri from 2007-09, averaging 14.9 points (54.9% FG), 6.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.36 steals … Named to the All-Big 12 First Team as a senior … Leading scorer (16.6) and rebounder (7.2) on 2009 team that reached the Elite Eight … Tied for sixth in the Big 12 in scoring (16.6), tied for seventh in rebounding (7.2), third in field goal percentage (55.8%) and sixth in steals (1.55) in 2008-09 … Honored as the Big 12 Conference’s Newcomer of the Year in 2007-08.

Position: Forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 219
Birthdate: Mar. 24, 1987
From: Sioux Falls, S.D.
College: Wisconsin

NOTEWORTHY: Appeared in 136 games for Wisconsin from 2005-09, averaging 6.1 points (46.2% FG), 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists … Never missed a game in his collegiate career, playing in the most games (136) in Wisconsin history … Started all 69 Badgers games during his junior and senior seasons … A 2009 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention … Totaled career highs of 8.2 points and a team-best 6.7 rebounds in 2008-09 … His 6.7 rebounds ranked seventh and his 84.6% free throw percentage ranked fourth in the Big 10 during his senior campaign ... Named to the 2008 Big Ten All-Defensive Team.

Position: Guard
Height: 6-7
Weight: 200
Birthdate: Nov. 20, 1986
From: Dallas, Tex.
College: Texas A&M

NOTEWORTHY: Played in 135 games for Texas A&M, averaging 11.6 points (44.4% FG, 42.0% 3-PT), 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists … Did not miss a game in four seasons with the Aggies … Averaged collegiate highs of 13.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in leading Texas A&M to the NCAA Tournament in 2008-09 … His 299 three-point field goals are the most by a Texas A&M player in school history … Led the Aggies in scoring in his junior and senior seasons … Named to the All-Big 12 Third Team in 2008-09 after being named an honorable mention in each of the two previous seasons … National co-leader in three-point accuracy, making a school-record 50.0% and setting a school best with 86 three-pointers as a sophomore in 2006-07.

Position: Guard
Height: 6-6
Weight: 219
Birthdate: May 29, 1987
From: Riviera Beach, Fla.
College: Alabama

NOTEWORTHY: Played four seasons for Alabama from 2005-09, averaging 12.7 points (45.2% FG), 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.16 steals … Appeared in all 128 Crimson Tide games in his four seasons, including 97 consecutive starts to end his career … Second Team All-SEC selection in 2008-09 … Posted career highs of 15.0 points and 7.2 rebounds during his senior season … Led the Crimson Tide in scoring in his senior campaign … 12th in the SEC in points (15.0), tied for ninth in rebounds (7.2) and seventh in offensive rebounds (2.8) in 2008-09.

Position: Guard
Height: 6-5
Weight: 215
Birthdate: Dec. 19, 1987
From: Pesaro, Italy
College: USC

NOTEWORTHY: Played three seasons for USC from 2006-09, averaging 8.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.07 steals … Averaged career highs across the board (12.3 points, 45.8% FG, 4.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.37 steals) as a junior in 2008-09 … Named to the All-Pac-10 Second Team and the Pac-10 All-Defensive Team in 2008-09 … Tied for third in the Pac-10 with 4.7 assists, eighth in steals with 1.37 and second in minutes played at 37.3 in 2008-09 ... Helped the Under-20 Italian team to a bronze medal at the European Basketball Championships in 2007.

Position: Guard
Height: 6-2
Weight: 220
Birthdate: Mar. 7, 1986
From: Chicago, Ill.
College: Gonzaga

NOTEWORTHY: Played four years for Gonzaga from 2005-09, averaging 9.3 points (46.5% FG), 3.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.27 steals … Appeared in all 132 Bulldogs games during his four-year stint at Gonzaga … Led Gonzaga’s 2008-09 Sweet Sixteen team in assists (4.9) … Named an All-WCC Honorable Mention in 2008-09 … Led the WCC in assists (4.9), ranked ninth in field goal shooting (47.9%) and seventh in steals (1.35) during his senior season … Named WCC Player of the Year and was an AP Honorable Mention All-America selection as a junior in 2007-08.

Position: Forward
Height: 6-11
Weight: 190
Birthdate: July 15, 1985
From: Montross, Va.
College: LSU

NOTEWORTHY: Played four seasons for LSU, averaging 7.2 points (48.8% FG), 5.2 rebounds and 2.00 blocks in 88 games … Posted collegiate bests of 7.2 rebounds and 2.71 blocks during his senior season in 2008-09 … His 2.71 blocks per contest in 2008-09 ranked ninth nationally and second in the SEC … Ninth in the SEC in rebounding (7.2) in 2008-09 … Named to the SEC All-Defensive Team as a senior … A 2009 All-Louisiana Third Team selection in 2009 … Started all 35 Tigers games in 2008-09 … Averaged 10.0 points (8-14 FG), 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in two 2009 NCAA Tournament games … Notched a career-best 11.6 points (52.5% FG) as a junior … Notched 29 career double-doubles.

Position: Forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 243
Birthdate: Feb. 10, 1986
From: Brookline, Mass.
College: Connecticut

NOTEWORTHY: Played four seasons for Connecticut from 2005-09, averaging 12.1 points (51.4% FG), 8.5 rebounds and 1.14 blocks in 133 games … Ranked 19th in the country and fourth in the Big East with a career-best 9.9 rebounds per contest as a senior … A Third-Team All-Big East Selection in 2008-2009 … Ranked 14th in the Big East in field goal percentage (50.5%), fifth in offensive rebounds (3.2) and 15th in blocked shots (1.17) in 2008-09 … Started every game in his final three seasons, including helping Connecticut reach the Final Four in 2009 … Named to First Team All-Big East as a junior in 2007-08 after averaging a collegiate-high 14.8 points (50.01% FG) to go with 9.1 rebounds … Tallied 47 career double-doubles.

05.07.09 Podcast

With the postseason elimination hangover now mostly worn off, it's back to the podcast. Dave Deckard of and me, Casey Holdahl of Center Court, discuss the playoffs, the off-season, the importance of being an active listener and the future in general during this edition of the Podcast.

Download (49.4 MB)

As a side note, please forgive my lackluster hosting in this week's podcast. I'm not much for the first chair as it is, and I'm feeling a bit under the weather. So... sorry. Luckily Dave, as always, was money.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Audio: Trail Blazers Courtside End Of Season Show

The season might be over, but Trail Blazers Courtside, the weekly radio show for all things Trail Blazers, keeps on trucking. Monday's show, the 2008-09 season wrap up, is a good one.

Nate McMillan and Kevin Pritchard participated in extended interviews with Mike Barrett, Mike Rice and Brian Wheeler, both of which are required listening for any Trail Blazer fan.

Nate McMillan

Coach McMillan discusses getting some sense of closure in regards to the 2008-09 season, challenging everyone to improve, Greg Oden's offseason plans, gaining experience from the playoffs and what he said to Brandon Roy.

Download (13.7 MB)

Kevin Pritchard

KP discusses a wide range of topics, including whether he can enjoy watching the playoffs now that the Blazers have been eliminated, what the team's general draft strategy is, his thoughts on the 2008-09 campaign, players getting back into the gym, his thoughts on Oden's offseason plans, Joel Freeland, Petteri Koponen, the treatment he received from the fans in Houston, Maurice Lucas's condition, contracts that come due on July 1, Travis Outlaw's performance in the regular and post seasons, the Europeans playing for their national teams and considering friendships when making trades.

Download (18.2 MB)

You can also listen to the show in its entirety.

First Hour

Download (38.6 MB)

Second Hour

Download (37.9 MB)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Once Ron Goes Roy, He'll Never Go Bryant

At first, it seemed as though Ron Artest's declaration that Brandon Roy was "probably the best player I've ever played against" was a bit of a farce; an attempt at reverse psychological warfare. Artest backtracked the next day, declaring, in jest, that he was the best player in the league. Who knows what Artest was getting at, if anything, but if nothing else, you got the feeling Ron-Ron had a healthy respect for B.Roy.

And now, even though the Rockets have moved on to playing the Lakers, Artest can't stop giving it up for Roy. And what's even sweeter, Artest is talking up Roy at Kobe Bryant's expense. From J.A. Adande's article in today's Daily Dime on
Artest wasn't rescinding his remarks that Portland's Brandon Roy is the best player he's gone against. He even expanded on them.

"Brandon Roy ... that comment was made because I really enjoy watching young fellas in the NBA," Artest said. "And I really enjoy just how talented they are. I mean, I'm 29, these guys come in, LeBron came in, I guess he's five years younger than me, these guys are coming in getting MVPs, playing great and leading their teams. I look up to that. I'm finished looking up to Kobe. That was a couple of years ago. There's young guys in there to look up to now. Like Brandon Roys and LeBron Jameses and Dwyane Wades, you know? O.J. Mayos ... I would like to give those guys all the confidence in the world, I want to see them do well."
So not only is Artest looking up to Roy, he's also mentioning his name in the same breathe as LeBron and D.Wade. High praise.

And there was a little extra nugget from Artest regarding Roy in Shelly Smith's writeup, also on's Daily Dime.
"I wish I would have matured as fast as guys like LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Brandon Roy," he said. "When I got a little college fame, got into the NBA, I veered to the left and wasn't focused on team so much, was focused on myself. It took me 10 years, unfortunately took me so long for me to understand that."
Better late than never. I'd like to cordially invite Ron Artest to become a card-carrying member of the Brandon Roy Fan Club, if he isn't already.

Monday, May 4, 2009

First And Last

Watching the final game of the Portland/Houston series at the Toyota Center, I was struck by how similar that game was to Game 1. Not Game 1 of the series, but the first game of the season in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Maybe it was because I saw both games in person and had the same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach walking back to the locker room in Houston as I had wading through the Staples Center crowd back on the first day of the season. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we finished the same way we had started, despite the passing of six months, at least a hundred practices and 88 games. And considering the way both of those games turned out, it wasn’t a pleasant realization to come to.

There were similarities on the surface. For example, in both games the Trail Blazers scored 76 points and had relatively late change to the starting lineup. Both games were highly anticipated and nationally televised (though the Chicago/Boston triple overtime game made that only half true). But the feel of Game 6, the sense that something was askew from the tipoff, is what really reminded me of that first game against the Lakers.

But I’ve been known to misread situations. Just because the losses felt the same doesn’t necessarily mean they were products of the same problems. After all, this team had come a long way since that first Laker game, but as it turns out, I wasn’t the only person who saw the same signs.

“I saw some similarities,” said Nate McMillan of the first and final games of the season. “It wasn’t so much a lot of differences. I saw a team that could still get rattled, but had been able to respond after that. We’ve been able to do that all season long, but some of what I saw in (the first game of the season) I saw in our last game. Time just ran out for us to prove ourselves again.”

Which is a real shame. All season, the Trail Blazers had shown a resiliency that belied their inexperience, such as when they snapped the 12-game losing streak to the Spurs in the second game of the season after that first lost, and you wish they could have had an opportunity to prove themselves again.

“It’s still a team that’s trying to establish themselves,” said McMillan of the similarities. “There were all these expectations and all this talk about the team and what we’re going to do and what we’re capable of doing and the matchups.”

For McMillan, it wasn’t so much a team that had played the same way, but a team that was once again thrown into a difficult situation for the first time.

“Experience is huge and until you go through it,” said McMillan. “You don’t know how you’re going to handle it. So even though the first game was a different moment and a different challenge for them than it was the last game, it still was something they had never faced before. To face the Lakers, the Western Conference champions, your opening night on the road on national television and then to be in Houston, playing an elimination game, it’s a different challenge but it’s still very similar pressure where you have to step up and perform.”

Unfortunately, the Blazers were unable to “step up and perform” in either game to a level adequate enough to get a win, or even stay close, for that matter.

If you saw the same things, you might ask what was accomplished throughout the course of the ’08-’09 campaign? If Game 1 turns out the same as Game 88, can you really say you improved and grew as a team? The answer to that question, according to McMillan, is an unqualified “yes.”

“We did see growth,” said McMillan, “and we still see growth. The growth will continue throughout the summer when you think back on those moments and you think about how you felt Game 1 and you how you felt at the end of the season and what you need to do to change those feelings next season.

“The growth doesn’t stop just because we’re not playing. If we continue to see them grow, we’ll see them working on those things; making sure they have their game right, they’re taking care of their body, they’re working on their game, they’re back early ready to go. That’s the growth and maturity that you want to see.”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Audio: Pritchard, McMillan Exit Interviews

Things move pretty fast here at Trail Blazers HQ. Less than 24 hours ago, we still had dreams of coming back to the Rose Garden with a chance of making the second round of the playoffs. Didn't turn out that way, so today we're back at the practice facility wrapping up the season. Funny how quickly things can change.

There will be more time to reflect on the season in the next couple of day, but at this moment, I'm far too physically and emotionally drained to put the 2008-2009 campaign into proper context.

So in the interim, listen to what Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan had to say today after conducting exit interviews with some of the players.

Kevin Pritchard

Download (4.8 MB)

Nate McMillan

Download (7.3 MB)